What is the difference between anxiety and panic attacks?


The truth is that most people use these terms interchangeably. Both anxiety and panic attacks are intense overwhelming emotional and physical experiences. I always use the example that it’s like you take a grenade pull out the pin and it explodes inside you except its emotions that explode.

And then you have a ton of other physical issues that arise as well. But even though we use these terms interchangeably there are actually different experiences.

Anxiety and panic are both intensely emotional and physical experiences.
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Anxiety attacks


Anxiety attacks come from a stressor. Some people might be afraid of flying. These people then have extreme anxiety before and during the flight. But once it’s over so is your anxiety attack.

Students might find this with exams. Stress before and during but once the exams are done it’s over. Students and adults who need to do a presentation in front of a class or at work might have this. May be driving a car for the first time or even doing your driver’s test.

The first day of a new job, a new school first state. The day you get married you get. it my point here is that there’s a stressor and so basically whatever stressor you have once it’s removed you’ll feel better.

Now it’s not like you’ll feel better right away. As you will still have some lingering feelings that will dissipate. But they will go away as the stressor is gone over a bit of time.

Anxiety attack.
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Panic attacks


Panic attacks are sudden with no stressor. I’ve had panic attacks alone watching TV at a Toronto Blue Jays game. Driving in my car speaking like recently I had one of my biggest panic attacks ten minutes before had to go on stage to speak.

Now for me after 2000+ presentations this is not a fear of speaking. That triggered this it’s just for me kind of random.

Now for me having a panic attack before I have to speak is one of the worst times possible. Every speaking date since then my brain begins to kind of say that there’s something scary about speaking even though there isn’t.

The pathways that get said are fascinating with our brains. This time I was just talking to someone. And then a wave swept over me my heart weight rate went from 60 to 155 and fear and panic etc. filled my thoughts and a cascade of symptoms and physical manifestations showed up.


But if you’re having a panic attack it is a sign that something is wrong. Even though we cannot clearly connect it with like a stressor it’s showing us that something in your body is not right.

Is it long-term stress, lack of sleep poor diet/scheduling I don’t know what might it be? According to the DSM-5 the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition. This is the handbook used by healthcare professionals to diagnose all mental health disorders.

Panic attack.
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A panic attack is characterized by four or more of the following symptoms. Here they are:


01- Heart palpitations pounding heart or accelerated heart rate.

02- Sweating for no reason.

03- Trembling or shaking.

04- Sensations of shortness of breath.

05- Smothering feeling of being choked chest pain.

06- Discomfort.

07- Nausea or abdominal distress.

08- Feeling dizzy unsteady lightheaded or faint that’s my worst symptom.

09- Feelings of unreality derealization or being detached from oneself depersonalization.

10- Fear of losing control or going crazy.

11- Fear of dying.

12- Numbness or tingling sensations.

13- Chills or hot flushes kind of either extreme.


My last panic attack had 11 of these 13 symptoms. You can also have many other symptoms. Things like goosebumps feeling like crying and emotions and confusion and many others. The reality is that both anxiety and panic attacks are not good.


If you’re struggling with them this article is really just looking at the question of the differences between them. But I would highly suggest you get some help. Go see your doctor and make sure that there is nothing physically wrong with you.
And go see a counselor get some strategies and how to walk towards freedom from all of these struggles. Whether anxiety attacks or panic attacks.

By RMG Perera

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